The Commission advised the clubs on risked prosecution for unlawful advertising as 1xBET doesn’t hold a valid UKGC license anymore. Indeed, the betting platform lost its license to operate in the UK earlier this summer following reports that its websites hosted betting on children’s sport, and cockfighting. It was also reported that the firm advertised on illegal websites, among which some were of pornographic nature.
1xBet’s illegal corporate behaviour should also serve as a lesson for individuals, bettors and players alike, as one can never be too careful when selecting their online betting or gambling platform. Online casino guides such as CasinoRange make sure to keep users up-to-date with safety concerns and suspended operators.
Tottenham Hotspur were the first club to publicly act on the recommendations and to terminate their multi-million-pound agreement with the Russian-owned, Cyprus-based firm. While their deal was initially supposed to run until 2022, Tottenham severed ties after it was revealed the firm had been using images of Harry Kane to advertise for betting in Kenya.
One week after Tottenham’s announcement on August 31, Chelsea and Liverpool were forced to suspend all advertising. They followed after being notified by the Gambling Commission about possible prosecution, meaning they could face unlimited fines and up to 51 weeks of prison. This represents a hard, shameful blow for Liverpool, especially since the deal was brokered recently, with an agreement being reached just this summer.
It should be noted that Liverpool’s announcement of a long-term agreement with 1xBET in July 2019 already fostered heavy criticism among their supporters. The multi-million deal meant for the club to provide in-game branding and promotion on social media, and was supposed to run for multiple years. As of September 2019, both Liverpool and Chelsea appear to have removed all mentions of 1xBET from their website and are said to be in talks with the firm.
This comes in the context of an intensified government crackdown on betting in the UK. Earlier this year, the government reduced the maximum bet that can be placed on fixed-odds betting terminals. In the pre-season, Huddersfield Town was also fined by the Football Association for their sponsorship with Paddy Power. Now, labour politicians are leading the charge against the big names in the industry, with a proposition to outlaw gambling advertising on football shirts.
However, the industry remains massively powerful. Out of 24 clubs in the Premier League, 17 are still sponsored by betting firms, and 1xBET is a giant that resisted hardship in the past. Back in December 2017, the Premier League already issued a notice of “cease and desist” against 1xBET for illegally streaming Premier League games, and yet the betting platform signed the aforementioned Premier League clubs in the eighteen months following. The company spans across five continents, and one week before signing with Liverpool, 1xBET brokered a five-deal with Spanish champions Barcelona.
Liverpool declined to comment, and Chelsea said they were “monitoring the situation.”